Domestic doyenne Martha Stewart — the queen of hosting, cooking and so much more — launched her namesake magazine, Martha Stewart Living, 30 years ago with its winter 1990 issue. To celebrate the milestone, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at her life and career in photos! Let’s get started…
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Martha Stewart was born Martha Kostyra on Aug. 3, 1941, in Jersey City, New Jersey. The second child started her career in the spotlight when she ventured into modeling at age 13. She landed gigs doing fashion shows, commercials and print ads before switching gears to attend Barnard College. While in college, Glamour magazine named her one of the 10 best dressed college girls alongside this picture in 1961. She married her college sweetheart, Yale Law student Andrew Stewart, that same year.
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From runways to Wall Street to the chicken coop?! Martha Stewart certainly tried her hand at everything. After marrying and graduating from college, Martha welcomed her first (and only) child, daughter Alexis, in 1965. Shortly after Alexis was born, Martha began a new career as a stockbroker on Wall Street, where she worked until 1972. At that point, she and husband Andrew opted to relocate their family to Westport, Connecticut, which gave Martha an entirely new focus — gourmet cooking! She was self-taught, leaning on Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” to hone her skills, and started her own catering business in the late ’70s. Martha is seen here in 1976.
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Next up for Martha Stewart? A book! When the multitalented Martha catered a book-release party for her husband’s publishing business, she met the head of Crown Publishing Group, Alan Mirken, who encouraged her to develop a cookbook. From there “Entertaining” was born. It included Martha’s recipes and info on her hosted events and was released in December 1982. It would be the first of many, with seven more published in the ’80s alone ranging from “Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres” to “Weddings.”
Though Martha Stewart’s professional life was booming in the late ’80s, her personal life was suffering. While she was making appearances on shows like “Larry King Live” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” back at home, her marriage was falling apart. She separated from Andrew Stewart in 1987, and the two divorced three years later. Martha is seen here in the early ’90s.
Martha Stewart’s next project would be a magazine we all know well — Martha Stewart Living. She signed on to the venture, which launched as a quarterly with its winter 1990 issue, as editor in chief. The magazine was so successful that it eventually inspired a television program and Martha, seen here in 1994, became a celebrity in her own right. That’s a good thing.
Just how prominent of a pop culture figure was Martha Stewart becoming? Well, in September 1997, she was tapped by a network with an unlikely demographic for a homemaker mogul — MTV! Martha was invited to be a presenter at the annual MTV Video Music Awards that year. The network paired her with rapper Busta Rhymes! The two riffed off each other well on stage after being introduced by that year’s host, Chris Rock, as “one [who] knows how to make a really mean pot roast” and “one [who] is always roasted on pot.”
1999 was a major year for Martha Stewart. That October, her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, went public on the New York Stock Exchange. By the end of the trading day, Martha — seen here at a White House State Dinner for Hungary the same year — was the first self-made female billionaire in the United States.
From the highest high to the lowest low! After reaching billionaire status, Martha Stewart’s company’s stock slowly fell. But it wasn’t her own stock that was about to get her into trouble! In 2001, she received insider information from her broker about the decline of ImClone Systems stock and subsequently sold all her shares the day before it fell 16%. This led to a nine-count indictment on charges including securities fraud and obstruction of justice. She’s seen here leaving leaving the “Late Show with David Letterman” studios the same year.
Martha Stewart went on trial for six weeks in 2004. That March, she was found guilty on four counts of obstructing justice and lying to investigators. That July (seen here), she was sentenced to five months in prison with an additional five months of electronic monitoring once released.
What do you do when you’re a multimillionaire about to spend months behind bars? Go on a lavish vacation, of course! In October 2004, Martha Stewart headed to the Bahamas’ Paradise Island, where she attended her publicist’s wedding and spent time frolicking on the beach before swapping a bathing suit for a prison jumpsuit later that week in West Virginia.
After putting in her five months, Martha Stewart was released from a West Virginia prison in March 2005. Once free, she boarded a chartered plane — she’s seen here waving to fans who came out to support her. But her legal troubles weren’t over: Post-prison, Martha spent two years on supervised release during which she was electronically monitored for five months.
Once she was a free woman, Martha Stewart wasted no time getting back to business. She returned to television with “The Martha Stewart Show,” expanded her exclusive Kmart line and continued to work hard at her magazine, Martha Stewart Living. She also got her very own “The Apprentice” spinoff, “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” — she’s seen here posing for NBC promos with the franchise’s original celebrity mogul, Donald Trump — and released a new book called “The Martha Rules.”
In 2006, Martha Stewart’s efforts in television were rewarded. “The Martha Stewart Show” picked up six nominations at the Daytime Emmy Awards that year. The show would run for seven years total, eventually ending in 2012.
Following her 1990 divorce from Andrew Stewart, Martha Stewart briefly dated Anthony Hopkins, but things didn’t get serious. “I went out to dinner with him a couple times but all I could think of was Hannibal Lecter,” she admitted years later during an appearance on “The Meredith Vieira Show,” referencing the Welsh star’s “The Silence of the Lambs” serial killer character. Her relationship with billionaire Charles Simonyi — seen here with Martha at the Russian National Orchestra’s 15th Anniversary Gala in New York City in 2006 — lasted much longer: The pair dated for about 15 years before splitting in 2008.
Martha Stewart continued to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the late ’00s. Aside from putting out even more books, she ventured into new business territories with projects like a line of KB Home houses inspired by her own residences in New York and Maine. She started a line of housewares for Macy’s, launched her own Sirius satellite radio channel, created her own brand of wine and moved into the world of floor coverings with the development of her own carpet tiles. She even struck a deal with Costco to launch her own line of frozen and fresh food under their Kirkland Signature label. Talk about a range of products!
Because there’s nothing Martha Stewart can’t do, she even dabbled in acting! The mogul appeared on a 2006 episode of “Ugly Betty” and in 2012 played a private school headmistress on an episode of “Law and Order: SVU” opposite Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson and Kelli Giddish as Detective Amanda Rollins.
Martha Stewart is seen here in 2010 at a Paul McCartney concert with her only child, daughter Alexis Stewart. A year later in 2011, Alexis welcomed her first child, daughter Jude, via surrogate — making Martha a grandmother. “Martha is going to be called ‘Martha,'” Alexis announced on her radio show, “Whatever with Alexis & Jennifer.” “She seemed to have no problem with it. … I was like, ‘Do you really want to be ‘Grandma’? I don’t like the term ‘Grandma’!”
The same year “The Martha Stewart Show” ended — 2012 — Martha branched out and debuted a new show on PBS that October — “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School,” which was based on her book of the same name.
In 2013, nearly a decade after her first trial, Martha Stewart returned to the courtroom. This time, her company was being sued by Macy’s in a contract dispute after she got into business with competitor JCPenney. Martha was called to testify in Manhattan Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in favor of Macy’s in 2014.
Martha Stewart made an unexpected appearance in March 2015 at Comedy Central’s Roast of Justin Bieber. She was one of the celebs in charge of roasting the pop star, to the surprise of many who didn’t realize there was a relationship between the two, and she charmed audiences. Among some of Martha’s best lines during the show? Besides roasting her fellow attendees, she ended her speech by laying out tips for Justin for when he “inevitably ends up in prison” based on her own experience.
Martha Stewart returned to television in 2016, and this time it was with a surprising co-host — rapper Snoop Dogg. That fall, the dynamic duo fronted VH1’s “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party,” a variety program featuring celebrity guests cooking and chatting with her and the Doggfather. In July 2017, Martha and Snoop were both nominated for an Emmy in the outstanding reality show host category! In 2019, the pair turned their TV show into a competition called “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Party Challenge,” which was judged by other celebrity guests.
In July 2020, Martha Stewart went viral at 78 after posting a sexy pool selfie on Instagram that commenters loved and instantly branded a “thirst trap.” “That’s definitely a thirst trap,” Martha later admitted to “Entertainment Tonight,” acknowledging that the term had to be explained to her. She said she simply liked her surroundings and how sultry she looked that day. “My camera came on backwards, you know, selfie mode, and I looked so nice. The sun was on my face. I thought, ‘Oh, that looks pretty,’ so I took the picture. It looked good.”
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